Developing pragmatics curriculum for Japanese high school English textbooks

31 May 2024
Room G1

Developing pragmatics curriculum for Japanese high school English textbooks

Pragmatic and interactional abilities are a central part of all the models of communicative competence (Bachman & Palmer, 2010; Canale, 1983; Canale & Swain, 1980). However, researchers have pointed out that most second language curricula and language tests do not systematically include pragmatics and that language textbooks generally do not have separate sections for pragmatics (e.g., Roever, 2022). Japan is not an exception. The analysis conducted by the authors reveals that Japanese high school English textbooks, which are government-approved textbooks by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, need to include pragmatics systematically. However, elements of pragmatics, such as greetings and self-introductions, are scattered throughout the textbooks. In addition, conversations are relatively short and made of chunks without contextual information. Speakers in the textbooks tend not to disclose themselves and engage in conversations with rather formal expressions, though self-disclosure is highly appreciated in English conversations. The textbooks mainly teach vocabulary and grammatical expressions, such as uncontextualized language skills.

This study presents a developmentally sensitive pragmatics curriculum that indicates what aspects of pragmatics can be taught at different levels using high school English textbooks. Japanese high school students’ proficiency levels vary from beginner to high intermediate (A1 to B1 at CEFR). While considering students’ vocabulary and grammatical repertoires, including routine formulae, we propose that we help students become aware of the significance of self-disclosure in intercultural communication, become sensitive to conventional (in)directness, and help them acquire pragmatic and interactional abilities. For example, as for A2 learners, we could start teaching simple conversations so that they can control a small range of patterns and sentence types. In order to help students move from the A2 level to the B1 level, we could teach them to extend conversations to more prolonged interactions in more complex situations.



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